1st Cavalry Division Horse Cavalry Detachment
The 1st Cavalry Division Horse Cavalry Detachment rides into the Bell County Expo Center during the opening ceremonies for the 10th annual military appreciation night rodeo in Belton, Texas, Feb. 10. (Photo Credit: Eric Franklin, Fort Hood Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

BELTON, Texas - Hundreds of Fort Hood Soldiers and their family members attended the 10th annual military appreciation night at the 35th annual Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeo at the the Bell County Expo Center here, Feb. 10.

“Tonight is the special night at the rodeo. It is military appreciation night,” said TC Long, the PRCA rodeo announcer. “I truly believe that every night is a military appreciation day, because if you work for men and women who put on a uniform for you, ... we could live in a country that we should be so proud of.”

After thanking military members and their families, Long introduced the rodeo as featuring the best performers, men and women, with the best livestock in the world.

Following Long’s introductions on horseback, the rodeo began with the national anthem performed by 1st Cavalry Division Band, with members of the division's Horse Cavalry Detachment showcasing the nation’s colors.

Long conveyed his gratitude to the audience, stating, “We value your presence and are deeply grateful for your contributions, whether it be through military service, civilian support or as a member of our military families.”

Dozens of cowboys and cowgirls competed in nine events, including bareback riding, bull riding, steer wrestling and the always fan favorite, Mutton Bustin’, which showcases young cowboys and cowgirls striving to stay mounted on sheep for the longest time.

“You’ve got cowboys and cowgirls from all over the world,” Long said. “They’re just coming back from Fort Worth. They’re headed to San Antonio. In fact, tonight, we’re going to get to see some gold buckles.”

Bronco Bustin'
A cowboy gets bucked off a horse during the 10th annual military appreciation rodeo in Belton, Texas, Feb. 10. (Photo Credit: Eric Franklin, Fort Hood Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

The crowds cheered as the horses bucked the riders, the rodeo clown cracked jokes and the little Mutton Busters held on for their lives. The rodeo clown provided moments of levity, injecting the proceedings with his humorous quips and antics that kept the spectators entertained in between events.

The military appreciation night provided an opportunity for the city of Belton and the Central Texas community to express their sincere gratitude towards the military, and for the military members to show their appreciation for the rodeo.

“I am glad to be able to enjoy the rodeo with my friends,” Spc. Michael Haslar, 2-227 General Support Aviation Battalion, 1st Air Cav. Brigade, 1st Cav. Div., said expressing his gratitude for those who put on the event.